Quality public schools are essential to the sustaining of liberty and of a prosperous economy. They hold out the promise of upward mobility to those in poverty, and thus are vital to social equality. Yet public schools in America, as is well known, are troubled, graduating many students who cannot participate effectively as citizens in a democratic republic nor contribute fruitfully to our 21st century “knowledge economy.”
The solutions to public school maladies are typically “top down”: state and federal agencies formulate new policies that are imposed on local school districts and supported with more money. While higher levels of government can do some good in public schools, recent history has shown that increased resources and shifting regulations have had little effect on public school maladies.
We believe the key to improving public schools is an engaged citizenry that:
1) Supports the school system actively and willingly (not just passively in tax dollars),
2) Expects high standards for both staff and students.
3) Demands transparency in results and spending.
4) Holds the system accountable for excellent results and stewardship of public money.
This “bottom up”, decentralized approach is how a democracy is supposed to function and will be more effective than “top down” solutions alone. The public schools are supposed to exist for the public good, which means that students’ (and their families’) long-term interests should always be the top priority of school administrators and teachers. Schools should provide children with the kind of education needed for human flourishing for a life-time. Our children deserve the highest quality education possible. Thus, having excellent, reliable public schools is fundamentally a matter of justice for children. The local community is in the best position to ensure that this happens.